BABJA Joint Statement to KTVU Regarding Nia Wilson
(OAKLAND, CA) July 24, 2018 — The National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ), the Bay Area Black Journalists Association (BABJA) and the Robert C. Maynard Institute for Journalism Education (MIJE) condemn KTVU FOX 2’s use of an unauthorized image of an Oakland woman just hours after she was fatally stabbed on a Bay Area Rapid Transit train July 22.
The story about the death of 18-year-old Nia Wilson that aired during the July 23 noon newscast, included a photo taken from Wilson’s social media pages that appears to show her holding a gun.
Use of this photo violated one of journalism’s core ethics: “do no harm,” as it implied Ms. Wilson was dangerous. The use of the photo can be seen as an attempt to dismiss her humanity and silence those who view her death as a racially-motivated attack. It was also in violation of copyright laws.
Such depictions reinforce unconscious bias, particularly against people of color, who are over-represented in stories about crime and violence. Please see the study “Young men of color in the Media” from the Joint Center Health Policy Institute.
Although KTVU anchor Frank Somerville offered a sincere apology Monday via Facebook and during the Ten O’clock News, we submit that swift action needs to be taken by the station.
Given previous editorial lapses, we would have hoped KTVU would’ve been more careful. The station made an embarrassing error when it read the fake names of four Asiana Airlines pilots on-air in 2013. These incidents would appear to illustrate a lack of cultural competency and training around unconscious bias among station staff and leadership.
NABJ, BABJA and the Maynard Institute request a meeting with executives at the station this week or at the NABJ Convention next week to discuss how KTVU will avoid making such an egregious error in future stories, particularly as it relates to its portrayals of persons of color.
We look forward to hearing back from you about the next steps.
NABJ Region IV Director
President, Bay Area Black Journalists Association (BABJA)
Martin G. Reynolds/Evelyn Hsu
Maynard Institute for Journalism Education
Immediate Past President, NABJ
Past President, BABJA
The National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) is an organization of African-American journalists, students, and media professionals. Founded in 1975 in Washington, D.C., by 44 journalists, the NABJ’s stated purpose is to provide quality programs and services to and advocate on behalf of black journalists. The organization has worked for diversity and to increase the number of minorities in newsrooms across the country. For more information visit nabj.org
ABOUT THE MAYNARD INSTITUTE:
The Robert C. Maynard Institute for Journalism Education is the nation’s oldest organization dedicated to helping the news media accurately portray all segments of society, particularly those often overlooked, such as communities of color. The media plays a pivotal role in shaping our perceptions of each other. The distorted coverage of communities of color influences public policy and the decisions we make in our personal lives. Maynard seeks to help news media achieve both a diverse staff and provide the public with the most accurate and nuanced coverage possible. For more information visit mije.org.
BABJA serves as an advocate and beneficial network of journalists, students and media-related professionals to ensure hiring, retention and promotion of black journalists. Founded in 1982, BABJA encourages and mentors black journalism students while providing a professional and social network for black journalists.